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Frequently Asked Questions: Transportation

Who is responsible for setting up transportation for students in temporary housing?

The McKinney-Vento liaison or Homeless liaison for the district where the student is enrolled in school must make sure transportation is arranged for students in temporary housing. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(6)(A)(viii). In some cases, the liaison may need to coordinate with the local department of social services, Runaway Homelss Youth (RHY) shelters, or neighboring school districts. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(a)&(b).

Are transportation services available to students who enroll in the local school where they are temporarily residing?

Yes. Students who transfer to their local school are entitled to comparable transportation services offered to permanently housed students living in the district. 42 U.S.C §11432 (g)(4)(A); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(d). If the lack of transportation creates a barrier to the student's ability to participate in school, the school district must eliminate the barrier. All school districts must review and revise transportation policies that may act as barriers to a student's enrollment and attendance in school. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(6)(b).

How long does a school district need to provide transportation for a student in temporary housing?

A school district must provide transportation for the entire time the youth is in temporary housing and through the remainder of the year when a student finds permanent housing. 42 U.S.C. §11432 (g)(1)(J)(iii) & (g)(3)(A)(i)(II). In New York State, districts must also provide transportation for an additional year if that year is the student's terminal year in the school building. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(i). For example, if a student in tempoarry housing finds permanent housing in the middle of their junior year, the student can receive transportation for the remainder of their junior year as well as their senior year.

What happens if the school of origin is very far away from where the student is temporarily living?

Transportation must be provided for students who are temporarily housed within 50 miles one way of their school building. If the school is more than 50 miles away, the school district is not required to provide transportation for the student unless the Commissioner of the State Education Department determines it is in the best interest of the student. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c).

Does a school district have to provide transportation even if they believe the student is not entitled to attend school in that district?

Yes. Students in temporary housing are entitled to transportation during disputes with the school district, even if the dispute is about school selection, enrollment, or transportation. 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(E)(i). For more information about the dispute process, please see our page on McKinney-Vento disputes.

When is the Department of Social Services (DSS) responsible for transportation for students in temporary housing?

The local DSS is responsible for the transportation of students to and from school any time the DSS has placed a student in temporary housing at an address which is outside of the school district of attendance and the student is eligible for Emergency Assistance for Families (EAF). However, if a DSS requests that the school district supply the transportation, then the school district is responsible for providing transportation to and from school. If the school district supplies the transportation, the school district is allowed to bill the DSS for their transportation costs, and the DSS is required to reimburse the district for the costs. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(a). Examples of temporary housing include: shelters, hotels, and motels. N.Y. For more information, please see the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Administrative Directive 06-ADM-15.

When can a DSS or a school district provide public transportation passes instead of yellow bus service for students in temporary housing?

A local DSS or school district should provide the same or comparable type of transportation for students in temporary housing (e.g. typically yellow school bus, van) as the school district provides for students who are permanently housed. While waiting for bus service to be set up, a school district or a DSS may provide temporary alternate transportation such as mileage reimbursement and/or transit passes so that a student does not miss school. It is expected that alternate transportation will be used on a short term basis only while busing is being established. For more information, please see the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Administrative Directive 06-ADM-15.

Who is responsible for transporting for students residing in runaway and homeless youth (RHY) shelters to and from school?

For students who attend their school of origin but are temporarily living in an RHY shelter in a different district, the school district where the student is enrolled will be reponsible for providing transportation to and from school for the student. The school district will be fully reimbursed for this expense by the State Education Department. To receive reimbursement, the school district must complete an RHYA Transportation Form. For students attending school in the new local district, that district should arrange for transportation to the extent that it is offered to permanently housed students in the district. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(b).

Can school districts provide transportation to parents to accompany their children to school?

Yes. For example, districts have provided parents with gas cards or reimbursed parents using the federal mileage reimbursement rate when parents in temporary housing use their own cars to bring their children to and from school. Districts have also provided public transportation passes to parents to accompany their children on public transit whenwhere busing was unavailable. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c).

When can parents receive transportation assistance to accompany their child to school?

When determining which parents are eligible for transportation assistance, school districts should consider the following factors:

  • age of the child,
  • distance of the transportation
  • complexity of the transportation arrangement,
  • need to travel through a high crime area,
  • cost-effectiveness of the parent transporting the child,
  • whether the child is disabled, and
  • a combination of such factors.

N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c).

Who is responsible for providing transportation assistance to parents?

The entity responsible for transporting the child (typically either the school district of attendance or a local DSS) is also responsible for the parent's transportation costs if a parent needs to accompany their student to and from school. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c); Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Administrative Directive 06-ADM-15.

How can school districts pay for transporting homeless students?

  • Districts are eligible for aid from the State Education Department for allowable costs associated with transporting students in temporary housing. Allowable costs include the additional costs incurred when transporting such students across school district lines. Districts will be reimbursed using the same transportation aid ratios as those used for permanently housed students. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c).
  • School districts may also apply for a McKinney-Vento Act sub-grant through SED. Funding from the sub-grants may be used to pay for transportation expenses of homeless students.
  • Title I, Part A set-aside funding may be used to pay for excess transportation costs that are not already covered by the resources above. A June 2014 Field Memo from the NY State Education Department authorizes school districts to use Title I funds to pay for the cost of transporting students in temporary housing. 20 U.S.C. §6315 (b)(3).

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